I fell in love with ustrasana this week. I’ve been practicing it for years and typically it feels challenging. This week it just felt so good! Some say that camel pose is about determination and accomplishing that which may seem impossible. Coming into the pose certainly feels impossible for some!
Start ustrasana by kneeling on the floor with the knees about sitting bone distance apart. The tops of the feet can be flat to the floor for the full pose or you can curl the toes under to bring the heels closer to the hands for a modification. Another way to modify is to use two blocks in place of your heels as shown in the photo.
Start by bringing the hands to the lower back with the fingers pointing toward the floor. Start to arch back, perhaps letting the head fall back if that feels right for you. Bring your attention to the tips of the shoulder blades and press them forward allowing your heart to open further. Press your tailbone downward slightly making space in your lower back. If this is feeling good and you’d like to take it further, bring your hands to meet your heels. Keep pressing the tailbone down and keep pressing the heart forward between the arms. Always remember that if you have stopped breathing you’ve likely gone too far into the pose and should back off some. As you hold this pose, press the hips forward so that they come above the knees and breathe deeply. If you wish to take this even deeper the hands can come to the backs of the knees, opening your heart even further and creating a very deep backbend.
To come out, draw your hands to your low back and start to come up so the shoulders are over the hips. Allow the head to come up last.
This pose benefits your respiratory system, can help with menstrual cramps and other stomach discomfort and can energize as well. It shouldn’t be done if you’re having serious low back or neck pain, but can actually help mild back pain. It also stretches the entire front of the body and strengthens back muscles, improving posture.